Problems with Restrictions

Doghouse – Morality and Licensing

Article from Issue 242/2021

Recent discussions of introducing moral restrictions into free and open source software licensing have maddog remembering all the reasons early developers decided not to go down that road.

Recently there have been some discussions around free software that are focusing on nontechnical issues that might best be described as "moral" issues.

For example, should people be allowed to charge for "free software" and should free software be used for purposes that are "immoral"? Should we build restrictions into our licensing that require "moral use"?

I cannot speak for every piece of software out there or every person who writes it, but we did have these discussions over a quarter century ago, and while I may not be able to find my car keys, I remember these discussions very well.


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